Sally called us up tonight and said she was coming over with slices (brownies) and that she wanted to do a Bible study. This was funny for me, because I've never had anybody tell me they wanted to do a Bible study, least of all spur-of-the-moment. I must admit, it caught me off-guard, which she must have noticed, because she said something like "well, I really just want to be with some friends, so we can just hang out if you want." I told her that she's always welcome, and she knows it, so she came over.
After hanging out for a while, showing off the new mimos blog that I designed, and making conversation, somebody mentioned that she'd wanted to read the Bible. She said, "you know, I got really excited about the idea. Normally I don't, but for some reason I thought, 'I really want to read the Bible,' and so here I am."
"This will be good for me," I said, "I've hardly touched my Bible in three weeks, let alone read much of it." "Me either," she said, "which is why I felt so odd about being so excited."
"What shall we read?" asked Liz. "I don't know," said Sally, "pick something."
We threw out a few suggestions, but in the end, Liz said, "let's read Jude." Of the three of us, Liz is the only one who actually remembers all the books of the Bible. "What, like ..." "Hey Jude" we all said, in unison. We laughed at our dumb joke. Liz started reading,
"This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. I am writing to all who are called to live in the love of God the Father and the care of Jesus Christ. May you receive more and more of God's mercy, peace, and love."
"He sounds really nice," said Sally.
Rarely have I ever enjoyed a Bible study. I've been to plenty of them, and some in college were tolerable because of good company, but on the whole, the only real reason I went was because my friends were there and I wanted to be with them.
I don't say this to be mean to the friends I had there, or to trivialize the things I've learned at said Bible studies, only to be honest and open. But tonight I felt better about reading scripture, like this was how it was meant to be done: as a community. I realize that my previous studies were also in community, especially the Bible studies I did in college.
But tonight, the words of God came alive on the page to me in a way they never have before. I don't know what it was about it; maybe I felt like Jude had written right to me, or maybe it was just the timing of it, or maybe even the company. I don't know. But tonight something changed. I feel better about things, better about God, better about myself because of what I've read.
To me, that is what scripture is supposed to do. It's almost as if it's alive and moving and breathing. It's supposed to affect us, to move us when we're unmoveable. It's not this specimen sitting on a lab bench waiting to be dissected, cut into little tiny pieces for each to be scrutinized. It's a living being waiting to be engaged so it can engage us. We've talked in mimos about how scripture was originally intended to be read in community, but it never quite made sense until now. When I could listen to Liz and Sally read it and then discuss it with them, reading scripture changed from being a burden into a joy. It wasn't my task to bear alone anymore; it was everyone's, and together we could work through it.
I wasn't alone.